I saw you that day. Crazy as it sounds, I saw you. You were walking away from your own funeral. I’ve never told anyone until now, who would believe such nonsense? They’d look at me strangely, then write it off as someone who looked like you coincidentally out for a walk. If I got really lucky they’d see some kind of sign from God that you were in a better place. But I know better. It was you. Were you pleased at how many people were there? Your widow was. Your daughter was.
I have wonderful childhood memories of you sitting on your front steps, smoking your pipe because you couldn’t smoke it in the house. I don’t remember everything you said on those steps, but the wisdom and the kindness you showed me has had a far greater impact on me than the swimming pools you built or the cool basement my friend and I enjoyed with the rest of the neighborhood kids.
Then I grew up and moved away to college, and you got sick. Then it was too late. I even longed to run from the funeral to catch up to you, but it was too late for even that.
All these years later, I still remember this with such clarity. You left me with a memory and a legacy. That would be just like you. Always loving, always caring, and always in the background.
The firm foundation of a family I wished I belonged to.
This is intensely personal for me, because this is a true story. When I was five we moved and I met the girl two doors down. We were best friends for many years. When I saw Jimmie’s picture, and this memory of her father leapt out at me and would not leave me alone. All these years later, he’s still feeding into my life. He was, and I believe he still is, an amazing man.